A new guide out this week aims to help parents as they contemplate medicating their kids to address challenging behaviors often associated with autism.

The 21-page download offers a series of pros and cons families can weigh when considering medication alongside worksheets to help parents sort out their feelings on the issue.

It was developed by clinicians affiliated with Autism Speaks’ Autism Treatment Network, a group of medical providers at 17 sites throughout the country that work together to identify effective approaches to treating autism.

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“Anytime you’re making a decision to add a new treatment you want to make sure that you’re making a decision that you feel is best for your child and your family,” said Nancy Jones, director of the Autism Treatment Network. “The point of the decision aid is to put power in parents’ hands.”

To that end, the guide includes basic information about medications that are commonly prescribed for those with autism and a series of questions that parents can use to prompt discussion with their doctor.

The guide was created after clinicians noticed the difficulty parents faced in determining whether or not to try medication.

It’s a decision that many parents of children with autism are facing. Statistics from the 3,800 kids in the Autism Treatment Network’s patient registry suggest that more than 40 percent of those over age 10 take two or more medications, most of which are designed to tackle behavior issues, Jones said.

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